Vatican City, Aug 8 :
Pope Francis will send Cardinal Fernando Filoni to northern Iraq to express his proximity and solidarity with the people, especially Christians, who are enduring attacks from Sunni jihadis, the Vatican press office said Friday.
The former nuncio to Iraq and current prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is set to arrive in Iraqi Kurdistan within the next few days, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
More than 120,000 Christians have fled to Kurdistan from their homes in the northern Iraqi towns of Qaraqosh and Telkif, which have fallen under the control of militants of the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist group.
Lombardi said it was too early to know whether the pontiff’s envoy will visit those areas.
The IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria to create an Islamic caliphate and has warned Christians they should convert to Islam or leave.
The Vatican press office Thursday said the Pope had received with “concern” the “dramatic news coming from northern Iraq, where the most affected are Christian communities which must leave their villages because of the violence in the region”.
In a statement, Francis urged the international community to put an end to this “humanitarian crisis and protect those threatened by violence”.
“I ask all men and women of goodwill to join me in praying for Iraqi Christians and all vulnerable populations,” Pope Francis posted Friday on his official Twitter account.